tv Inside Washington PBS February 27, 2011 3:00pm-3:30pm PST
>> production assistance for "inside washington" was provided by allbritton communications and "politico," reporting on the legislative, executive, and political arena. >> what we're doing right now is not about union busting. it is about balancing our budget. >> this week on "inside washington," the showdown in wisconsin. is this the beginning of the end fort unions? >> it is a disaster. >> the bloody rebellion in libya. >> these actions violate every standard of common decency. this violence must stop. >> the obama administration decides not to defend it the defense of marriage act. >> the president's the position has been consistent. he has long opposed it as
unnecessary and unfair. >> meet the next mayor of chicago. >> thank you, chicago, for the stumbling a victory. all i can say -- you sure know how to make a guy feel at home. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- >> a couple of thoughts as we begin in today's discussion at. want, elections have consequences two, it is no longer your father's labor movement. republicans got majorities in statehouses across the midwest. union members are feeling the consequences of those elections. in wisconsin, gov. scott walker has come up with the plan that would strip collective bargaining rights for most public workers.
here is a tea party member. >> i don't believe in unions. they will be the death of this country. i'm tired of paying their benefits. >> imagine what the country would be like without unions. corporate america what will this country. the middle class would be destroyed. >> richard trumka, president of the afl-cio. republicans in the wisconsin assembly approved gov. walker's bill and send it to the senate, but minority democrats the state to illinois it. charles krauthammer is not with us this week, but i have his column. "the magnificent turmoil gripping the statehouses in wisconsin, ohio, indiana, and others, marks and at a political moment." do you agree, evan? >> well, yeah. democrats depend on at the
public unions in many states, and public employee unions have a problem here. i ought to distinguish between unions and public employee unions. unions of is the are critical. but in the public sector, public employee unions have an easy time getting benefits because nobody is pushing back all that hard road that is a problem for the democratic party. right now the way it is being framed is a whose side are you on, the public employee union or the taxpayers' side? >> nina? >> so it is the unions' fault that the managers kate? i don't know the details are, but in wisconsin, this is a manufactured crisis, because it governor cannot take yes for an answer. the unions have said we will give you all the cuts in benefits and salaries you want, we just want to preserve the collective bargaining rights, and he says now. >> colby?
>> charles is right that this is an important moment. i would not say a bang of is that moment at all -- i would not say a magnificent moments at all. the question is whether this is going to be sustained or not. the governor of wisconsin is clearly out to break with the unions. that is his objective and there could all the states are watching to see what is going to happen. if it happens in wisconsin, it could happen elsewhere. this is a fundamental fight we have on our hands. >> mark? >> let's be very blunt. the united states workers would have never had a five-day workweek and eight-hour work day, minimum-wage laws, health and pension benefits, without this bill on the passion and commitment and a cloud of organized labor -- the skill and passion and commitment and clout of organized labor.
unions made a difference in american landscape. you better believe it. at the same time, my good friend evan, who i respect enormously, endorses and breezes private- sector -- and embraces private sector unions, defanged, basically powerless to a generation ago, many on the right said they were a threat to american democracy. now public employees have the same right to collective bargaining that any employee does. how does a school teacher negotiate with the city of new york, or the city of milwaukee? you pull your resources to do that. >> democrats, trawls, sa -- charles krauthammer is says,
"are desperately defending the status quo." >> look at the conditions of employment. circumstances that only a union can come together and change in a public setting or private setting. a teacher or a firefighter a police officer cannot renegotiate the circumstances or the benefits around him. >> ok, ok, ok, this is all true. but let's look at the situation in the united states. public employee unions have disproportionate power. in a private situation, the store owner will push back because if they give away the store, they lose the stored in a public setting, it is state legislators that just want more contributions from unions. we of got into a tremendous jam here.
sure, you cannot repentance down the road, later, and there is like $3 trillion of these unfunded pensions, and it is a serious situation. >> that is true, but it is worth figuring out a solution over. >> unions spent in support of the president obama and democratic candidates and a 2008. on the flip side, you have the koch brothers in wisconsin who supported governor walker's campaign and are also contributing to americans for prosperity, which is organizing demonstrations in support of the governor. there is a lot to be said for unions -- you make a deal with that union and the union comes through for you in the election. >> let me tell you, unions do have influence, and corporate america has even more money
if you look at what they spent in the election. they can spend it in an unlimited way and they will outspend unions, i don't know -- >> is this the beginning of the end for unions? >> here is the rub. yes, this is ground zero in the fight for collective bargaining, but here's the rub -- between 1989 and 2009, the median hourly wage for the american male fell by 2%. fell by 2%. all the concentration was the top 1% -- 57% of all of goucher growth was in the top 1% -- all economic growth was the top 1%. that was widely tension exists now. people in wisconsin have their own lives decimated and gutted and they bought into this specious argument that the econom -- is not the economic
system rigged against them -- >> here is what the democrats have to do. they have to shift the focus from the unions to the top 1%, the super rich. >> i don't think this is the beginning of the end for unions. they will have to redefine themselves and energize the country about it. >> is this the end fort unions, nina? >> my assumption is that governor walker will eventually win at some point, another. it will be a very sad time, i think, for most of the folks there now he has left out police and firefighters this time. it depends on how people react in wisconsin to this, who they blame, when it does not turn out to be wonderful, and when they notice that there are no-bid contracts put into the same bill. it also depends on whether the labor movement can pull itself together and have a pr message
that makes sense. >> some of the people who are not members of the union -- why should i be paying for their benefits? nobody is paying for my benefits. the governor is asking for a much smaller contribution that i have to make. you understand the resentment. >> when you get 2.5 million americans who have lost health- care benefits from employers that it did hate them, it is understandable. but let's be blunt, they bought off -- states, employers -- public employees, who do not come up with wages for the private sector. college-educated workers and the public sector could not make what college-educated workers to in the private sector. the benefits -- evan is right, they are saying we cannot deliver on pension promises we made. >> if we get all this unfunded
pension liability in states like illinois and other places, it will bankrupt -- >> you cannot take it away. the question is the new hires, are they going to be affected. there will be stark choices between paying attention to the got cop -- in connecticut, you n retire with a cost-of-living increase. that will not -- when they are having to fire cox to pay the pensio -- cops to pay the pension, you better get guns, because there will be fewer cops. something is wrong with that picture. >> it is in the unions' interest as well to be able to continue. you negotiate those things. >> there are things that people will realize unions to negotiate
for bid -- that people don't realize unions negotiate for. the ones who treat our politicians, cancer patients - one at -- could treat oncology patients, cancer patients, when they do chemo, they do when patient at once. >> a week from today is crunch time. a number of budget cuts that the house has passed that the president will not go along with. will the government shutdown? >> i think not. getting this done is doable. republicans want to see it cuts in the continuing resolution. the democrats on the senate side are looking for ways to get some cuts. they will have to negotiate an amount and they might not get the republican number, they might not get their democratic member. there will be a compromise.
this is not like the last shutdown. there will be people cheering the government shut down in this country. >> at date won't know what that means until that happens. i heard alice rivlin on npr is said that during the last shut down, one of the things she was worried about was animals at nih. >> not decide understands completely the other side -- neither side understands completely the other side. consequences unforeseen. >> the madness of muammar gaddafi and a budget in -- the blood shed in libya. >> revolution. not civil war. only people against the regime. >> something extraordinary is happening in the middle east and that libya is the latest manifestation of it. gaddafi says protesters are on
drugs and osama bin laden is behind the whole thing. any predictions as to how this will end, colby? >> it will end badly for him, and that will be a good thing. territory -- he has lost territory to the rebels. in tripoli, they are fighting a bloody resistance, but at the end of the day, he cannot hold the country. what does he get out of this? where does he go? >> what happens to libya at afterwards? is it another somalia, a haven for terrorists? what happens to the oil? >> it is only 2% of oil, but 2% is a lot. it is a special kind of oil and it has a lot of shock value in the international market. the larger question is still as saudi arabia. i saw graaff in "-- a graph in
"national journal." of the third world countries have grown -- other board will cut trees have grown hugely their industries -- third world countries have grown hugely their industries. saudi arabia is less than zero in other development. that is a recipe for disaster. >> on thursday, a "washington post" editorial criticized president obama for failing to take the lead in gaddafi's crackdown. -- in criticizing muammar gaddafi's crackdown. >> this is not a made-in-america resolution in the middle east. it is indigenous. that is important not go the other thing about libby at that is driven home by the events there is the importance of the military. the military and egypt was
stabilizing and an important and peaceful institution, a respected. now you have just mercenaries. they have a ticket to fly from africa to libya. there were given guns with orders to shoot anybody who resisted. that is a formula and recipe for disaster. >> pilots were flown to malta, defected. naval officers not very much inclined to do -- >> the history of the region -- for 800 years, people have been telling them what to do, one invader after another. even italy, actually. the most important thing the united states can do is get out of the way. there are people doing things behind the scenes subtle, but it has to be an indigenous revolution. however painful that may be, and it is going to be painful, we have to let that at. >> is the president to pass it?
>> not on this one. i disagree with those who think he has been too passive. the last thing he needs is to become a foil for gaddafi. what obama is doing that is correct is to get the allies together to do something, and you out the sanctions that could have some teeth with libya. >> gaddafi is a very unpleasant person, but in recent years we have been cozying up to him. >> he gave up his nuclear program, which was nice of him. but he seems like the one on drugs because of his crazy rents. -- rants. kind of loony. >> ahmadinejad, the president of iran, criticizes gaddafi's bad
behavior. "all should yield to the demands of their own nation." >> physician, heal thyself. do as i say, not as i do. >> like other demagogues and petty dictators, he has no shame. they shot their own people, they cracked down on their own people, and it is as if he never saw that happen before. >> oil prices have gone up. >> this is something we have to watch, because it will have a real shock effect on our economy. the europeans really depend on that sweet crude, out of libya. >> it goes to $5 a gallon, we could go back into recession. or is that -- >> i don't think they are talking about recession, but it is going to cut off our
coverage. -- our recovery. >> increased demand from china and india, all of those cars. if it goes over $4 in california -- $5 a gallon gas is a sobering prospect. >> defense of the marriage act -- not anymore, not in this administration. >> it directly affects us. >> they are suing the federal government. they were married last fall in connecticut, but he works with the federal government and is unable to use federal health insurance. this week, the obama administration announced it would no longer defend in court the defense of marriage act. what does that mean, nina? >> first of all, let's look at what this is about in this case. those states that same-sex marriage and have legalized it,
you cannot get the benefits of that under federal law. you are not entitled to spouse benefits under social security and things like that. that is what the defense of marriage act does outlawed, recognition of a legal marriage in those states that recognizes same-sex marriage. that is all this case is about. but on the other side of the coin, as the work, the administration is doing something rare -- not unheard of, but rare -- refusing to defend is utterly enacted statute. that is risky business. that has happened over 13 years or so, but usually over executive power. this can come back to bite you in the fanny. >> isn't the president's supposed to enforce the law?
>> the executive branch is a bust in fo -- the executive branch is supposed to defend the law before the supreme court. in this case, they have carved out a piece of ground that says we cannot defend it because we view it as being unconstitutional. that is the stance they have taken. it will come back at some point in a way that some people will like and some other administration will take the same position. but i think they are doing the right thing. maryland is on the verge of doing the same thing. the federal government ought to get out of the way. >> the white house says the president's position on this is evolving. the president himself says that. what does that mean? >> you tell me. this is not really is supported by a legal precedent or
consensus on constitutionality. basically, the position seems to be let congress defend its. congress taking place of the executive -- >> it has happened before, but it is rare. >> politically, obviously it pleases those who care deeply about gay marriage, many in the gay community, gay activists in particular. but at a time when jobs and the economy are first and foremost, it is a surprising -- >> also, i think it is a mistake to mess around with the rule of law. we take it for granted, but it is so precious to us, so essential to who we are good look at the middle east -- so essential to who we are. look at the middle east. >> what are they doing, though? they're not abolishing the law. >> they won't enforce it -- >> now, they are enforcing it.
they say they will not defend it. >> enforcing it and not defending it in court? >> that is it. >> chicago mayor rahm emanuel. >> tonight we are moving forward in the only way we truly can, together as one city with one future. [applause] >> that is the next mayor of chicago, rahm emanuel. he won it all. he always said it was his dream job. how did he make it happen? >> he made it happen by basically clearing the field. he faced a week in opposition, raised a lot of money, and dominated the debates. rahm emanuel has been enormously successful as a democratic operative in the white house, outside of the white house, in congress. but he has always been one of the staff. now he is one of one, mayor of
chicago. just like or mayor, there is no place to hide. >> mayors have to get stuff done. >> more than that, he is going to have to cut and chop t. to be a governor or mayor now is to deliver bad news all day long. >> chicago has a bigger role than wisconsin does -- bigger hole than wisconsin does. he is the kind of guy who can sit at the table and say to the unions, "i am not giving." >> i think he is going to be a very successful mayor, because he has a good sense of politics and power and how interest groups work. i am glad he is there and out of washington. i have family in chicago, and they need a good leader. >> rahm was in washington last
time the government shutdown. the question is, is it going to happen again? there is talk of a continuing resolution and so forth. >> the comparison is tough to resist between 1995 and today. then there were 72 republican freshmen in the house who did not really calculate the full impact of a shutdown and what it might be politically. now you have an equal component of republicans in the house right now, and that is the wild card. will they agree to a continuing resolution that does not really cut government? >> they are squabbling over 12% or 15% or whatever it is, fighting over minutia that hurts taxpayers. meanwhile, the real monster in the room is left untouched, entitlements and taxes. >> there is no mystery there.
republicans have already said they will do it when they put together the budget. that is what is important to concentrate on the continuing resolution and trying to deal with cuts in this resolution so that they don't have to shed t -- joppa government down. >> they're cutting millions from border security at the same time we have immigration. >> also reassuring. see you next week. for a transcript of this broadcast, log on to insidewashington.tv.